Fifth Graders Stand Up For Sharks

Sawyer Chandler and Sam Matthews, young activists, are calling on legislators to strengthen Texas's safeguards against shark finning—with an assist from Coach Taylor.
Fri March 15, 2013 12:45 pm

In a grey-toned conference room in the Capitol extension on Thursday, a woman handed the mic to Kyle Chandler, an actor who is instantly recognizable as Coach Taylor from the TV series Friday Night Lights.

But in this case, Chandler quickly ceded the spotlight to two fifth-grade* girls: his daughter, Sawyer Chandler, and her friend, Sam Matthews.

The trio were in the conference room, which had been reserved for the day by the national chapter of the Humane Society to promote a bill that would make the trade, sale, and possession of shark fins illegal in the state of Texas. Gathered with them were a number of volunteers from the organization. It was the humane society’s day to lobby the legislature, and later in the day, the volunteers would swarm the capital in teams, meeting with individual legislators in an effort to promote various animal welfare bills.

The subject at hand was the welfare of sharks.

“I’ll give you moral support,” said Chandler, as he introduced the girls to the group. He explained that they both want to be marine biologists when they grow up.

“I don’t like speaking in front of large groups,” Sawyer said as she took the podium.

Her friend, Sam, apparently felt the same, but was resigned: “I really like sharks, so I guess I’ll do it.”

Nerves aside, the girls delivered a moving speech about the horrors of sharkfinning, a practice in which fishermen cut the fins off of sharks and dump the creatures back into the ocean to die. Though the practice is banned


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